Two key state House committees voted today to advance a controversial measure that would allow terminally ill patients to request prescriptions for lethal doses of medication.
The House Health and Human Services Committee voted 4-1 in favor of House Bill 2739, dubbed the “Our Care, Our Choice Act.” The House Judiciary Committee voted 7-1 in favor. Republican Reps. Andria Tupola and Bob McDermott cast the two no votes.
The bill is expected to be up for a full House floor vote on Tuesday.
House Health and Human Services Chairman Rep. John Mizuno said the bill was amended overnight following a five-hour public hearing Tuesday, and said the proposal now has the strongest protections of any state. (Medically assisted death is legal in the District of Columbia and five states: California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.)
House Judiciary Chair Rep. Scott Nishimoto said the bill balances access with safeguards.
Mizuno said the two biggest changes to the bill were removing advanced practice registered nurses as eligible to provide a lethal prescription, and requiring mandatory counseling after two physicians confirm the patient’s diagnosis, prognosis, competence.
“We wanted to make it extra safe so we put in mandatory counseling, and no other state has that,” Mizuno said. “You will hear people, even the advocates, say it’s an over-protection. However, at the end of the day, we didn’t want to take a chance.”